ROLAND S. MARTIN: The new reality for Bush and the Democrats
By Roland S. Martin
The stunning Texas-sized whoopin' the Democrats put on the Republicans on Election Day was certainly one that chapped the hide of President George W. Bush.
Refusing to actually read the newspapers or watch TV, Bush had deluded himself into thinking that all was well with his party. Yet he clearly overestimated the anger that Americans have with the Republicans when it comes to the war in Iraq. And of course, his base has been none too pleased with the skyrocketing deficits -- long anathema to the GOP -- and social conservatives felt let down by their man in Washington.
What all this meant is that the Republicans now find themselves no longer in control of Congress for the first time in 12 years, and they even lost a majority of the governors' mansions across the nation.
As a result, Bush no longer can play Mr. Tough Guy and strut around the nation's capital, choosing to ignore the sound advice of moderates in his own party. He can forget trying to keep his own counsel, thinking he is a modern day Neo and Vice President Dick Cheney is The Oracle. They are now going to have to truly learn about governing since the Democrats can now start calling congressional hearings, subpoenaing papers from the White House, and forcing the administration to answer the tough questions they have been able to avoid for the last six years.
Bush has said that he successfully did this while he was governor of Texas. But the big difference is the governor of the Lone Star state has no real power. The real power broker is the lieutenant governor, and during his tenure, that man was Bob Bullock, a conservative Democrat who formed a true friendship with the man across the aisle. Yet there is no doubt that Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic congresswoman from California who will be Speaker of the House, is no Bullock. She won't be trying to walk around the ranch doing manly things with Bush, kicking the dust in their cowboy boots and plotting to do good for Texas. The president is going to face a tough politico who will play the rough and tumble game, and will not forget how she and her party were treated during the Republican congressional reign.
Yet it's not just Bush who is going to have to make a major adjustment.
The Democrats are going to have to come to the realization that what took place on election night had nothing to do with them. Sure, they ran some quality candidates who were drastically different than their loyal opposition. But the real issue was Bush, Bush and more Bush.
Ask any of the winners what the "Democrat plan for Iraq" is, and you'll likely hear 20 different answers. Surf the Internet for the Democratic version of the GOP's "Contract with America," and you'll come up empty. What Democrats must face is that they have spent the last six years of the Bush presidency complaining and whining about how America will be so much better with them at the helm.
Well, guys and gals, you've got your shot.
Now is the time to put up or shut up. With the presidential election two years away, the party of Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama is going to have to show us that they have the right stuff. They are going to have to present a unified front and not be so divided that they can't even reach logical conclusions in their own caucus before hitting the floor.
The time for Democrats to show what they are made of is now.
The American people are clearly starved for real leadership. They want folks who are going to talk tough, shoot straight and offer a voice to follow. We've got two years before we have to see the negative campaign commercials and the charges and counter charges.
Mr. President, we now get to see what kind of leader you really are with an opposition that can hold your feet to the fire.
Democrats, we now get to see you put your lofty ideas into a plan of action that can pass muster and be put into law.
And America, we now get to see if the decision made on election night was one of anger, or a willingness to change the direction our nation is headed in.
Roland S. Martin is founder and editor of BlackAmericaToday.com. He is executive editor of the Chicago Defender, the nation's only Black daily newspaper; a commentator for TV One Cable Network; and host of "The Roland S. Martin Show" on WVON-AM/1690 in Chicago. His columns are syndicated to newspapers nationwide by ©Creators Syndicate. He can be reached at roland@Blackamericatoday.com or email@example.com
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